Smith’s sweet tooth lands them in a deep pile of chip

January 2020

When two iconic products collide it typically results in a visceral and engaging response from the public – and Smith’s foray into lamington flavoured chips did not disappoint.

Combining lamingtons with Smith’s Chips almost seems too perfect for a brand that fully embraces its local heritage, but consumers weren’t left feeling as warm and sentimental.

Draping “hints of chocolate, coconut and cream” on crinkle-cut chips drew conflicting reactions from consumers’ tastebuds. Is it coconut covered? Would anyone want a creamy and salty chip? Just how do you get lamington flavouring?

To determine the in-market potential of this controversial new product, we ran it through our automated Innovation Testing solution. We use ‘3 C’s’ to predict success:

  • Captivate: Does it stand out and elicit a positive emotional response?
  • Connect: Does it leverage unique brand properties to create instant recognition?
  • Compel: Does it predispose people toward purchase?
Smiths Lamington Chips

Captivate

Lamington Chips evoked an intense emotional response, being considered highly unique compared to not only traditional category offerings, but also the limited-edition flavours pioneered by brands such as Smith’s.

But the pivot to a mix of sweet and savoury flavours proved to be a serious turn-off for many people, missing out on the goodwill that limited-edition products typically benefit from. This was similar to ­KFC’s Chicken Doughnut sandwich, where people’s ability to conceptualise the product actually dissuaded them, hindering their propensity to purchase.

Over a third of people were ‘disgusted’ by the Lamington Chips concoction, while many others were left with negative feelings such as ‘frustration’. Some people were ‘amazed’ at the prospect of two of their favourite foods being brought together, but this was not enough to counteract significant negativity – as a result, Lamington Chips placed in the bottom 30% of our database for ‘Likeability’.

Connect

While the product idea turned heads, on some levels it stayed true to Smith’s reputation for controversial flavour combinations (e.g. Spag Bol, Mac n’ Cheese). Branding cues such as the bright pink bag were evocative of Smith’s iconic Salt & Vinegar flavour, while the stacked crinkle-cut chip imagery was familiar to savvy consumers – helping make the packaging recognisable.

Leveraging masterbrand associations is essential for building the credibility of new products and garnering goodwill from consumers. However, equally important is ensuring the product aligns with people’s perceptions of the brand and the category it operates in.

Lamington Chips proved to be a step too far, with the sweet and savoury flavour combination being considered a poor fit with the rest of Smith’s product range.

Compel

It’s likely that Lamington Chips were only ever intended to have a short shelf-life, with their novelty-value creating a bit of social noise and buzz in the lead-up to Australia Day. However, launching a new product like this doesn’t come cheap – amongst other things, significant time and money is invested into gaining the support of internal stakeholders, R&D, distribution and marketing.

Therefore, eliciting some form of response is essential – whether that be in the form of sales or building brand equity. In both of these respects the response was underwhelming.

The product wasn’t seen as credible or relevant enough to people’s snacking needs to warrant serious consideration. It also did little by way of building longer-term predisposition toward the Smith’s masterbrand, with poor fit inhibiting associations around ‘Australian’ and ‘Innovative’, instead pushing ‘bizarre’ and ‘weird’ connotations back onto the brand.

Conclusion

Lamingtons are as Australian as Pavlova and Vegemite, so it is easy to see how pairing it with Smith’s Chips offered the brand an exciting opportunity to capitalise on the Australia Day holiday.

However, Lamington Chips exhibited weak in-market potential – not just because they don’t achieve the necessary level of acceptance to be commercially viable, but more importantly because they do little to build equity for the Smith’s masterbrand.

NPD Innovation Testing - Smiths Lamington Chips

This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.

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